Arbitration panel gives Russian oil company shareholders legal relief
Shareholders in the former Yukos oil company, which was disbanded by the Russian government in 2007, are entitled to seek an estimated $100 billion in damages from the state, according to an arbitration ruling. That’s a big blow for Vladir Putin’s efforts to take the country back from so-called “bandit capitalists” who bought up the nation’s assets cheaply (sometimes using threats and violence) after shares were handed out to the public after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Former Yukos CEO Mikhail Khodorkovsky -- who once led Fortune's "Global 40 Richest Under 40" list – was later arrested and jailed. The issue is fraught with the politics of ostensible free enterprise vs the Big Brother state. The arbitration panel says current shareholders are cleared by an Energy Charter Treaty panel to press claims. But Russia says it is not bound by the treaty. Lawyers are now expected to argue that the Russian government improperly expropriated Yukos under the pretext of collecting unpaid back taxes. It’s going to be a humdinger of a trial, but it won’t be quick. Read more: The New York Times, Business Week
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